rif team

 MARIA BLACQUE-BELAIR   Executive Director/Founder   Maria BB established RIF as a welcome center for asylum seekers in 2006. She is a clinical social worker who has worked with refugees for the past twenty years. Prior to working in New York, Maria worked in major humanitarian crises in Iraq, Bosnia, and Rwanda. She also worked in the Romanian orphanages after the fall of dictator Ceausescu. Maria provides psychosocial assistance to relief workers at  Doctors Without Borders  (MSF/USA) on an as-needed basis. Maria is bilingual in French and English and speaks Spanish.

MARIA BLACQUE-BELAIR

Executive Director/Founder

Maria BB established RIF as a welcome center for asylum seekers in 2006. She is a clinical social worker who has worked with refugees for the past twenty years. Prior to working in New York, Maria worked in major humanitarian crises in Iraq, Bosnia, and Rwanda. She also worked in the Romanian orphanages after the fall of dictator Ceausescu. Maria provides psychosocial assistance to relief workers at Doctors Without Borders (MSF/USA) on an as-needed basis. Maria is bilingual in French and English and speaks Spanish.

 Sean Langberg   Program Manager   Prior to moving to New York, Sean worked in Washington D.C. as a lobbyist and advocate for conflict prevention. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he focused on African politics and international security. He has experience working with diaspora communities from Iraq, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, and Burma. Prior to joining RIF, Sean worked with academics from Southwest Asia and Africa who were fleeing war and persecution in their home countries.    

Sean Langberg

Program Manager

Prior to moving to New York, Sean worked in Washington D.C. as a lobbyist and advocate for conflict prevention. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he focused on African politics and international security. He has experience working with diaspora communities from Iraq, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, and Burma. Prior to joining RIF, Sean worked with academics from Southwest Asia and Africa who were fleeing war and persecution in their home countries. 

 

 Sarah cast   Program Coordinator   Sarah worked as a researcher for a conflict resolution group at the University of Colorado and spent six months reporting on the Colombian conflict and politics as a journalist in Medellín. She earned her master’s degree in international affairs from the New School where she focused on conflict and security studies. She joined RIF after completing her final master’s project with the organization in 2016. Sarah also volunteers and fosters for an animal rescue in Brooklyn.

Sarah cast

Program Coordinator

Sarah worked as a researcher for a conflict resolution group at the University of Colorado and spent six months reporting on the Colombian conflict and politics as a journalist in Medellín. She earned her master’s degree in international affairs from the New School where she focused on conflict and security studies. She joined RIF after completing her final master’s project with the organization in 2016. Sarah also volunteers and fosters for an animal rescue in Brooklyn.

our community

 Venezuelans and immigrants aid (VIA)   VIA  supports and advocates for the Venezuelan diaspora in NYC. RIF works closely with VIA to provide asylum support to Venezuelans -- currently the top country-of-origin for those seeking asylum in the U.S.

Venezuelans and immigrants aid (VIA)

VIA supports and advocates for the Venezuelan diaspora in NYC. RIF works closely with VIA to provide asylum support to Venezuelans -- currently the top country-of-origin for those seeking asylum in the U.S.

 Tanzilya Oren   Volunteer Education Consultant   Tanzilya is a licensed social worker, certified career counselor, doctoral student at Fordham University. Tanzilya is a passionate advocate to improve services for newly arrived immigrants.

Tanzilya Oren

Volunteer Education Consultant

Tanzilya is a licensed social worker, certified career counselor, doctoral student at Fordham University. Tanzilya is a passionate advocate to improve services for newly arrived immigrants.

 Anne Saint-Pierre   RIF Photographer   Anne is currently documenting RIF"s Urban Farm Recovery Project in a project called Seeds of Resilience. Check out her work  on her website  or the  RIF gallery.

Anne Saint-Pierre

RIF Photographer

Anne is currently documenting RIF"s Urban Farm Recovery Project in a project called Seeds of Resilience. Check out her work on her website or the RIF gallery.

our volunteer legal team

 Angela torregoza   Immigration Attorney at LegalEase Law Firm and CUNY Law School    

Angela torregoza

Immigration Attorney at LegalEase Law Firm and CUNY Law School

 

 caitlin Steinke   Immigration Attorney at the Law Office of Sandy Khine

caitlin Steinke

Immigration Attorney at the Law Office of Sandy Khine

 ellen Friedman   Accredited Legal Representative at Safe Horizon

ellen Friedman

Accredited Legal Representative at Safe Horizon

Board members

Shadrach Gonzalez Fher

Audu Kadiri

Bea Plasse

Carol Skyrm